Diver’s Digest

Photography by Bryan Edwards
Styled by Elyse Remenowsky

Diving watches have been an object of curiosity for generations. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint the cultural marker that prompted these timepieces to shift from utilitarian devices to “desk divers,” Sean Connery’s iconic run as James Bond with the Rolex Submariner on his wrist is the first to come to mind. Ever since, diving watches have become bestsellers in an industry known for ignoring trends and for selective taste. Apart from fueling the macho, corporate contest of who can wear the diver with the largest case, heavy investments from watch brands in R&D and design have cued the production of some of the best looking sports watches in horological history. Here, we feature our favorite divers from the past year, from vintage-inspired legacy pieces to timepieces that feature revolutionary new technology.—Logan R. Baker & Shyam Patel

The Bulgari Diagono Scuba

The Diagono Scuba, with its eye-catching color scheme, makes a seamless transition from lounging next to the pool, practicing your backhand on the tennis court, or hitting the golf links. Price: $6,550

The 2017 Rolex Sea-Dweller

The Crown cast a noticeable shadow at this year’s Baselworld by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Sea-Dweller. Not every brand can fulfill fan expectations every year, but Rolex did an excellent job of pleasing its followers with a bold 43 mm case, the powerful new Caliber 3235, and, for the first time in a Sea-Dweller, a Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock. Price: $11,350

The Panerai BMG-TECH™. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver.

The Panerai BMG-TECH™ boasts a proprietary new bulk metallic glass that utilizes a disordered atomic structure to become near-unbreakable. One Panerai insider told us earlier this year that “if you drop the watch on its crystal, it will bounce right back up.” Price: $10,200

Perhaps the supreme example of a luxury sports watch, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver has been updated in three shockingly bright colorways for this year, making it the ideal beachside companion. Price: $19,900

The Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC. The Ulysse Nardin Le Locle Diver.

Upon its release in 1953, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms was the first automatic dive watch to hit the market. The house’s former CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter, an avid diver, perfected the timepiece with the MIL-SPEC 1, which included a circular water-tightness indicator. At this year’s Baselworld, Blancpain unveiled a new iteration, the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC, complete with a scratch-resistant sapphire bezel and SuperLuminova indexes.
Price: $14,100

The Le Locle diver provides a retro aesthetic reminiscent of divers built and sold by Ulysse Nardin in the mid-1960s as well as an in-house caliber that uses a silicon lever and escape wheel. The watch is extremely legible and gives credence to the fact that excessive lume and an oversize case are not always necessary for today’s diver. Price: $9,600

The Grand Seiko SBGA229.

The SBGA029 has long been an office favorite during its nearly decade-long production time. After the big news from Baselworld that Grand Seiko will be breaking off to form its own brand, the Japanese manufacture redesigned the watch’s dial with repositioned branding and rechristened the watch the SBGA229. No longer does the Seiko logo occupy crucial space in the upper-middle area, now only the elegant ‘GS’ and roaring lion logo of Grand Seiko remains, and of course the Spring Drive system, meaning the watch is as reliable and smooth as ever. Price: $6,000

The Breitling SuperOcean Héritage II Chronographe

The sole chronograph we shot for this issue, the Breitling SuperOcean Héritage II Chronographe remains as large and in-charge as ever. The attractive Milanese mesh bracelet makes the oversize bezel look and feel as graceful as possible. Price: $6,040

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer.

TAG Heuer’s Aquaracer, water resistant up to 300 m and powered by the brand’s automatic Caliber 5, is enclosed in a 43 mm titanium case and an anti-reflective flat sapphire crystal. The all-around hunter green look draws on military influences that are perfect for adventurous watch enthusiasts. Price: $2,800

The Geoffrey Roth HHS/D

Geoffrey Roth is a lesser-known and self-taught watchmaker based in Scottsdale, Arizona that produces highly-limited watches. The HHS/D diver boasts water resistance to 1,000 meters and a bronze and steel construction that adds to its unique look. The scrolling text at the top is a nice design touch that balances the oversized bezel and shell motif on the dial.
Price: $8,500.